The Pokémon video games are largely based around finding a variety of fantastical looking creatures, capturing them inside pocket-sized balls and then making them fight each other. As such, it’s probably fair to say that no one honestly expects the epitome of realism from the franchise. But even the most outlandish games set themselves a certain level of logic in relation to the real world that they must stick to in order to maintain the player’s suspension of disbelief and throughout the many generations of Pokémon games, there have been more than a few instances where this logic has been stretched, broken or outright ignored. Putting aside the obvious – wild animals battering each other using grass, bubbles, lightning, etc – this list looks at some of the times the Pokémon games decided to leave its own rules and logic at the door and do things that simply wouldn’t fly in real life.
Here are 15 Things About The Pokémon Games That Would Make Absolutely No Sense In The Real World.
15. Casually strolling into other peoples’ houses
This trope certainly isn’t unique to Pokémon, with a vast majority of RPGs and the entire The Legend of Zelda franchise also guilty of it, but given the game’s widespread popularity, Pokémon marked the first time many gamers experienced the ability to walk into a stranger’s house with absolutely no repercussions. Not only will the home’s occupants not mind your character sauntering into their abode uninvited but they will usually be more than happy to give you a salient piece of advice or even an item of theirs for your troubles.
You might think that this relaxed attitude to home security is down to the lack of crime in the world of Pokémon, however the burgled house in Cerulean City suggests otherwise. Whether it’s because they’re overly-kind or just naive, the fact that the games actively reward players for barging into other peoples’ homes is not a lesson kids should take out into the real world.
14. Leaving home at eleven years old
Starting your Pokémon adventure is surely an exciting time. You get to pick your first companion, battle your new rival and finally hit the road on your journey to becoming a Pokémon Master. But it can’t have escaped many players’ attention that the set-up of this franchise is a little bit weird. The protagonist is, after all, usually around eleven years of age and their parent(s) is/are quite happy for them to leave home and explore the world. At eleven years old, most parents don’t even trust their children to clean the dishes by themselves, let alone travel the globe alone.
And whilst you’ll likely encounter a Pokémon school on your travels – and it’ll helpfully teach you about the various status changes – at no point is there any mention of actual school. It seems that in the world of Pokémon, the only education you’ll ever need is how to battle your pets. In the case of the first generation Pokémon games, the story is extra suspicious as the main reason for your leaving home is to fulfill the wishes of the old man who lives next door.
13. The Game Corner lets kids gamble
As if letting young children venture around the world on their own wasn’t irresponsible enough, the Pokémon games also allow players to indulge in a spot of gambling at the various Game Corners dotted around the franchise’s maps. Essentially casinos, these establishments allow you to play for money at Pokémon themed slot machines, card games and roulette wheels. Unlike most entries on this list however, the Game Corner element of the franchise has actually caused problems for Game Freak, the developers of the Pokémon video games.
As in-game simulated gambling began to attract higher age certifications for games, the Game Corner concept was gradually removed from the franchise, disappearing altogether from the Black and White versions onward. The decision may not have gone down too well with fans but it’s understandable that Nintendo wouldn’t want its impressionable younger audience to come away from the game thinking that slot machines and roulette wheels aren’t without their pitfalls. After all, there’s a big difference between losing Poké money and your hard-earned real life cash.
12. Criminal organizations give up after you beat them at Pokémon
Team Rocket might be somewhat of a running joke in the Pokémon anime but in the games, they – along with all their copycats in later generations – are obviously a very well-funded and highly organized criminal enterprise. It’s a little odd then that the whole gang would fold just because your plucky protagonist beats them all in a Pokémon battle. Imagine if The Godfather’s Don Corleone packed in the entire family business just because he lost to Don Barzini in a game of chess.
Whilst the gamer is undoubtedly brave in single-handedly challenging the dangerous group of adults that is Team Rocket, the gang seems to overlook the fact that, after having his Rhydon flattened, Giovanni could’ve just tied you up and locked you in a secret room. After all, no one would ever find out because your mother let you go off exploring on your own and doesn’t give you a phone until Generation Two.
11. Diglett used…Scratch?!
Diglett is a brown lump with eyes and a nose that pops out of the ground and yet the first move it’s able to use is Scratch. The fact that the Pokémon – and its evolved form Dugtrio – can go on to learn both Cut and Slash later in the game proves this isn’t just an oversight either. Quite how it performs this move is anybody’s guess, although some have theorized that the hidden portion of Diglett’s body may – like a regular mole – include a set of claws. This theory remains unconfirmed however and, as such, Diglett using Scratch goes down as one of the many examples of Pokémon using moves that defy their physical features. Other examples include Doduo being able to learn Fly despite being a flightless bird – and we’ll get to the other problems with Fly in the next entry – or Tauros learning to use Surf in Gold and Silver onward.
10. Small birds carrying humans with HM02
Doduo’s lack of wings makes its ability to use the Fly HM very strange indeed but that isn’t the only example of Pokémon being able to escort human beings in the air when they shouldn’t. HM02, Fly, allows a Pokémon to ferry the player from city to city and whilst this makes perfect sense for the likes of Charizard and Pidgeot, there are a handful of Pokémon who simply aren’t big enough to carry a person – even an eleven year old child – who can still learn the move. These include Pidgey, Spearow, Farfetch’d, Pidove and Fletchling. The smallest of these, Pidgey and Fletchling, are 0.3m in height and weigh less than two kilos meaning that the prospect of them flying a human being over any length of distance is laughable. Pokémon trainers may have been willing to ignore the fact that all monsters can use HM moves even after they’ve fainted but the thought of Pidgeys carrying people is just a step too far.
9. Gym Leaders with weak Pokémon
The Gym Leaders in the Pokémon universe are supposedly the cream of the crop; the best of the best other than the Elite Four. Why then, are the early ones you meet so very weak? Brock’s status as a Gym Leader is swiftly undermined by the realization that his level 12 Geodude and level 14 Onix could easily be taken out by any random trainer you meet after Lavender Town. Literally over half of Kanto is stronger than Brock.
From a game-play perspective, this feature is obviously a vital component of the game. It provides players with a natural difficulty progression and gives the game its structure of ‘bosses’. Thinking in terms of the real world however, having such drastically weak Gym Leaders would make no sense, particularly for a trainer beginning their journey somewhere with a strong Gym like Saffron City. The Gold and Silver games somewhat remedied this discrepancy as, when the player returns to Kanto, the Gym Leaders are using much stronger Pokémon with reasonably even strength. Therefore, maybe each Leader changes their Pokémon depending on the challenging trainer’s skill level?
8. When you beat kids in battle, you take their money
Pokémon battles: the fun sport for all ages. You overcome another child in a test of strategy, power and skill, putting trust in your faithful Pokémon companions because, after all, this game is about friendship, right? Your opponent’s last Pokémon faints, they graciously accept defeat. Then you…take their money?! Indeed, the wholesome past-time of Pokémon is giving a slightly cynical edge by the fact that the victor takes the loser’s hard-earned cash.
Whilst this may be understandable in a bout between adults – or even during Gym fights – it also happens when a grown-up trainer defeats a child. The real-life equivalent would be an adult challenging a child to a thumb war in the street – ignoring the weirdness of that in itself – and then demanding their cash after winning. In the eyes of the law, that’s called mugging and no amount of jaunty, catchy battle music is going to change that.
7. How does Lt. Surge leave his Gym without Cut or Surf?
When players of the original Pokémon video game rocked up at the third Gym on their journey, the only way to reach it was by using HM01’s Cut technique or by Surfing – something trainers don’t learn until later in the game. And that’s absolutely fine in itself; it adds an extra element of challenge to Lt. Surge’s Gym and makes use of your very first Hidden Machine. The limited access to Vermilion Gym does, however, make it difficult for Lt. Surge himself to come and go, especially since none of his Pokémon know how to use Cut or Surf.
Considering the point regarding lax home security explored earlier in this list, it’s refreshing to see a character in the Pokémon world who takes the safety and protection of his property seriously. However, Surge’s over-zealousness may have caused more problems than it solved, proving that the solution isn’t always just to close yourself off from the world.
6. They turned the Pokémon Tower graveyard into a radio station
In the first batch of Pokémon adventures, players get to explore Lavender Town, along with its famous Pokémon Tower: a graveyard for deceased Pokémon. Whilst it’s definitely one of the game’s darker moments, it adds a welcome touch of spookiness to the adventure and it’s also pleasing to know that departed Pokémon aren’t simply buried in the garden or flushed down the toilet but honored properly like their human owners.
This apparent good will is forgotten in the second generation of games however, as when players return to Lavender Town, they find that the graveyard has now been turned into a radio station. Not only would this be considered morbid and disrespectful in the real world but it also begs several important questions. Were the Poké-corpses excavated and moved or just left to become part of the radio station? And are big Pokémon like Snorlax and Gyarados too bulky to bury and just left to rot inside their Pokéballs?
5. If beating all eight Gyms is so hard, why is Victory Road so busy?
Throughout your Pokémon adventure, trainers are constantly reminded of the difficulty in challenging the eight Gym Leaders and taking the Pokémon League challenge. Making obtaining all eight badges even more difficult is the fact that Giovanni – Viridian City’s Leader – only returns to his post at a very late stage in the game. Additionally, only you and your eternal rival are even seen to be challenging the Pokémon Gyms. All this considered, you’d expect the path to the Elite Four, Victory Road, to be pretty quiet. You’d be mistaken.
Despite Giovanni only being an active Gym Leader for a very short time in the game, Victory Road is littered with trainers who would’ve needed eight badges in order to get past the strict Pokémon League security. Even more baffling is the fact that, despite the abundance of trainers in the area, none of them manage to find the Legendary Bird Moltres loitering down one of the dungeon’s many ladders.
4. Big Pokémon battling in small places
The invention of Pokéballs goes a long way towards making the Pokémon universe feel more believable. After all, whilst a Bulbasaur or Eevee would be able to run alongside you with no problems, Pokémon such as Goldeen or Onix are unsuitable for land travel due to their size or type. This makes perfect sense and Pokéballs help circumnavigate the issue, however the logic is seemingly abandoned when it comes to battle sequences.
No matter if you’re fighting in a small cabin aboard the S.S. Anne or an office at the Silph Co. building, you’re able to battle with Pokémon who simply aren’t suitable for that location. Whether that’s using a water-bound Pokémon like Seaking on dry land or whether you summon a giant such as Gyarados in a room no bigger than a gas station bathroom, anything goes during battle mode. In all fairness, having restrictions on which Pokémon are able to battle in which area would be highly annoying for gamers and would force needless alterations to a trainer’s Pokémon party. In the real world however, good luck using a 6.5 meter Gyarados in a ship’s cabin.
3. Growl, Tail Whip, Leer, etc…
During a trainer’s first few Pokémon battles, some moves are intuitive. Techniques such as Tackle and Scratch are self-explanatory physical attacks that are the foundation of your initiation into Pokémon battling. Often accompanying these moves however, are techniques such as Growl, Leer and Tail Whip which are significantly less simple to understand. These types of moves tend to lower either your opponent’s attack or defense stat but the mechanics behind this are a little muddled.
Most gamers would buy that growling at a level 3 Pidgey might make it less lethal in attack but strangely, the move would be equally as effective if that same Pidgey used it on Mewtwo. Realistically, Mewtwo should laugh at being Growled at, mentally tear the offending Pokémon to shreds and then go about his business as if nothing noteworthy had happened. As the strength between two Pokémon widens, the weaker monster’s attacks become less effective and the same should occur with moves like Growl and Tail Whip. Not that anyone really uses them anyway.
2. Professor Oak: The Forgetful Genius
A well-known entry perhaps but well-known simply it’s a classic. For all the nonsensical entries on this list, the writing really was on the wall from the very beginning. In the game’s introductory sequence led by Professor Oak, the player is able to input their name in the usual R.P.G. style, as well as select their gender and set the clock in later generations. Oak also goes on to inform you about his own Grandson, before seemingly forgetting the youngster’s name and asking the player to prompt him. Whilst the ability to name your own rival is very much appreciated – calling him something rude was always a game highlight – there was surely a more believable way of getting to that point than having one of the world’s most respected professors and the inventor of the Pokédex forget the name of his own Grandson. If that’s the way his family treats him, it’s little wonder your rival turned out to be an arrogant little brat.
1. Female Mr. Mimes
Pokémon had flirted with the idea of different genders in the first set of 150 beasts with the two types of Nidoran but took the concept to the next level in Generation Two with male and female versions of virtually every Pokémon. Whilst this new addition to the franchise was universally well-received for adding an intriguing new element of game-play, the new specified genders didn’t make sense in all cases.
Most notably was Mr. Mime, a Pokémon defined by his gender, now available in both male and female forms. Without wanting to delve too deeply into modern gender politics – this is just Pokémon after all – it surely would’ve made more sense just to include a Mrs. or Miss. Mime. An explanation for this oddity can be found in the Pokémon’s original Japanese name which actually has no reference to gender at all. Mr. Mime’s original title translates roughly to ‘Barrierd’, meaning that the ‘Mr.’ part of the name simply wasn’t part of the original game design.
Pokemon Sun and Moon are available now.